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University of Central Missouri
Administration 302
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
Fax: 660-543-4943


NASA Astronaut Michael Hopkins to Present Skelton Lecture

Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Sept. 24, 2014) – Col. Michael S. Hopkins, a NASA astronaut who walked in space Sept. 25, 2013 as a flight engineer on the International Space Station, will talk about the value of leadership and its impact on his career with NASA and the U.S. Air Force when he speaks at the University of Central Missouri.  He will present the Ike Skelton Lecture, an event in the Servant Leadership Lecture Series, at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 9 in Hendricks Hall. His presentation is free and open to the public, although free tickets are required.

Col. Michael S. Hopkins
Col. Michael S. Hopkins

The Servant Leadership Lecture series has grown out of a partnership between UCM and Whiteman Air Force Base that reflects shared values of leadership and service. It is part of the Whiteman Advantage initiative which brings together personnel and resources from Whiteman and UCM to create a shared vision of community while improving opportunities for servicemen and women on campus and on base.

 Hopkins becomes the second individual to present the Ike Skelton Lecture since it was established early in 2014. The lecture is a special presentation within the Servant Leadership Lecture Series, and was established in honor of former Missouri Fourth District Congressman Ike Skelton. A Lexington native who passed away in 2013, Skelton served in Congress from 1977 to 2011, and his tenure included leadership as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Skelton was a longtime supporter of Whiteman and UCM.

Born in Lebanon and growing up on a farm near Richland, Mo., Hopkins made his first spaceflight as a flight engineer on Expedition 37/38 to the International Space Station in September 2013. Aboard the Soyuz TMA-10M spacecraft, Hopkins launched into space from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan along with Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy . Hopkins, Kotov and Ryazanskiy returned to Earth on March 10, 2014, after 166 days in space. During their journey into space, the crew completed 2,656 orbits of the Earth and traveled more than 70 million miles.  Hopkins and another U.S. astronaut Rick Mastracchio, who later arrived at the space station, conducted a pair of U.S. spacewalks to change out a degraded pump module for a total of 12 hours and 58 minutes.

Hopkins will share video of his space travels with those in attendance. He is not only known for his recent walk in space, but he has gained a reputation as an outstanding speaker. According to an article in “The Chicago Tribune,” a commencement speech made by Hopkins at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in spring 2014 not only received a standing ovation by the 17,000 people attending, but also earned his presentation a spot on the list of the top graduation speeches of the season. The North American Association of Commencement Officers listed Hopkins among its six best speakers for 2014. 

Hopkins was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force in January 1992, and worked on advanced system space technologies at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M. Continued progression in his career included flight testing C-17 and C-130 aircraft, serving as a project engineer and program manager for United States Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office at the Pentagon, and as a special assistance to the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where he worked until he began astronaut training in July 2009. He graduated from Astronaut Candidate Training in November 2011.

Hopkins has a close connection with the Warrensburg community. Although his father, Ogle Hopkins, is deceased, his stepmother, Paula Hertzwig Hopkins, resides in Warrensburg, where she has leadership responsibilities as city manager.

The Servant Leadership Lecture Series is an expanded partnership between UCM and Whiteman Air Force Base (WAFB) that highlights shared values of service and leadership. The series is part of the Whiteman Advantage program. The Whiteman Advantage initiative is a joint effort between UCM and WAFB that has led to new education opportunities, including UCM aviation courses being taught on base; collaborative measures to help reduce high-risk drinking among airmen and college students; a military tuition package, which reduces the cost of an education for military personnel and their families; a new Command Pass for UCM athletic events that benefits active duty military members; and the establishment of the Military and Veterans Success Center on UCM’s campus.

On the day of Hopkins’ presentation, Oct. 9, doors to Hendricks Hall will open for guests to begin seating at 9 a.m. Limited visitor parking will be available on campus that morning in Lots 3 and 24 located off of South Street, just north of Hendricks Hall.

Limited, free general public tickets will be available from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 6, 7 and 8, and 8 to 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 9 at the Central Tickets Box Office, Administration Building 100, or by calling 660-543-8888.